Delhi’s Deteriorating Air Quality Casts Doubt on Bangladesh-Sri Lanka World Cup Match

Delhi’s steadily worsening air quality has prompted concern about the upcoming Bangladesh-Sri Lanka World Cup match. The face-off is slated to take place at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Monday afternoon. But as asthmatic players skip practice and the Central government enforces GRAP 4 restrictions, the smog-shrouded Delhi air has become a key concern. 

Both teams cancelled a practice session over the weekend and several players remained indoors in a bid to restrict exposure to fresh air. Meanwhile the ICC has reportedly sought advice from Delhi-based pulmonologist Randeep Guleria for an independent assessment of the situation. 

“Under Dr Guleria’s guidance, the venue team has been taking mitigating actions throughout the day including the implementation of water sprinklers around the premises and the installation of air purifiers in the dressing rooms and match officials areas. The AQI within the stadium was monitored throughout the day which has reduced to levels considered acceptable by Dr Guleria,” an ICC spokesperson told PTI.

Will the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka match be cancelled?

A final decision will only be taken on Monday by the match officials. Neither team has put out a venue change request and reports indicate their willingness to abide by the ICC decision. 

“We didn’t make a request to change (the venue). But we were asking the ICC what would happen because when we came here, we saw the Bangladesh team had cancelled (training) and we saw the outside environment. So, we just asked them what’s the plan. They said they will have a discussion, and then they’ll come back. I think they have installed some equipment here, and they’ve got specialists to check and they are helping them out,” Sri Lankan cricket team manager Mahinda Halangoda told PTI.

It is not the first time that a match is taking place in the national capital under such circumstances. Both the Bangladesh and Sri Lankan teams have previously donned masks to play in smog-filled Delhi. However a number of Sri Lankan players had faced faced respiratory issues

A number of Sri Lankan players had however faced respiratory issues at during the 2017 Test series. Reportedly some had even vomited in the dressing room due to the hazardous conditions.

How bad is Delhi’s current air quality?

An AQI of zero to 50 is considered ‘good’ and SAFAR-India measures air quality up to 500. Delhi currently stands well into the ‘severe’ category with the AQI at 463 on Sunday afternoon. Anything between 400-500 affects healthy people and is considered a danger to those with existing diseases.

The India Meteorological Department, has forecast no rainfall for the city on Monday – which could have improved the AQI by forcing down air pollutants.

When will a decision be taken?

Match officials will take a final decision on Monday before the game starts. They will view air pollution in the same manner as inclement weather when it comes to the viability of the match. 

What happens if the match is cancelled?

Bangladesh was knocked out of ODI World Cup contention earlier this week following a clash with Pakistan. While Sri Lanka remains in the fray their odds of making it into the semi finals are exceedingly slim at this time. 

Each team needs to play 20 overs in order to elicit a match result. The teams will both be awarded a point in case the match is called off tomorrow. Even then, Sri Lanka – who currently has 4 points and an NRR -1.162 – will find it exceedingly difficult to qualify for the semifinals. 

The Kusal Mendis-led team will have to win both their match against Bangladesh and New Zealand in order to have enough points. Even then, their NRR will probably fall short when compared to the likely performances of Australia, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Meanwhile for Bangladesh, a victory in tomorrow’s match would also mean an automatic qualification for the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Updated: 06 Nov 2023, 08:37 AM IST

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